“Paris is well worth a Mass.” This quip is attributed to Henri IV, who converted to Catholicism in order to ascend the French throne.
Most of our choices are not as dramatic, but there are occasions when we are required to give up something important to gain something even more important. Or we realize that our current path is unsustainable, that we have to give up the gains already made to retrench, build a war chest, then move forward with renewed determination.
Moments like these may feel like a defeat. But they are not. Ask mountaineers – their way to a summit is always iterative: testing footholds, probing ledges, encountering obstacles, rerouting.
Staying an unsustainable course is the surest path to true defeat, but cognitive bias often makes it difficult to cut our losses. The hard trick is to look at your situation dispassionately, then give yourself the same advice you’d give your best friend.